The Idea of Power and Locke's Taxonomy of Ideas

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):1-16 (2017)
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Locke's account of the idea of power is thought to be seriously problematic. Commentators allege that the idea of power causes problems for Locke's taxonomy of ideas, that it is defined circularly, and that, contrary to Locke's claims, it cannot be acquired in experience. This paper defends Locke's account. Previous commentators have assumed that there is only one idea of power. But close attention to Locke's text, combined with background features of his theory of ideas, supports the drawing of a distinction between four different ideas of power. The paper describes each idea and its role in the Essay. It then argues that this distinction can help Locke to avoid the traditional criticisms.



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Patrick J. Connolly
Johns Hopkins University

Citations of this work

Locke, Simplicity, and Extension.Bridger Ehli - 2023 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 105 (2):289-314.
Locke on Persons and Other Kinds of Substances.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (1):129-155.

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References found in this work

A treatise of human nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1969 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Causality and Determination.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1993 - In E. Sosa M. Tooley (ed.), Causation. pp. 88-104.
Locke: Ontology.Michael Ayers - 1991 - New York: Routledge.
An enquiry concerning human understanding: a critical edition.David Hume - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Tom L. Beauchamp.

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